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Kokua Line: Fewer than 1% of Oahu’s primary ballots scratched due to missing or mismatched signatures

Question: I have been seeing those TV commercials reminding voters to sign their ballot-return envelope for the general election. That got me wondering: How many primary ballots were thrown out because of this problem?

Answer: A total of 1,688 ballots cast on Oahu for the Aug. 8 primary were not counted because the voter did not correct a missing or initially unverified signature, according to the Elections Division of the Honolulu City Clerk’s Office.

Spokeswoman Doris Lam provided this breakdown:

>> 912 ballot envelopes were returned unsigned.

>> 1,821 ballot envelopes were returned with a signature problem requiring clarification (the signature did not match the voter’s signature on file).

>> Of those 2,733 problems, 1,045 were resolved. The resolved ballots were counted.

>> That left 1,688 signature problems unresolved. Those ballots were not counted.

A total of 275,744 ballots were counted on Oahu, according to the state Office of Elections. So signature problems affected fewer than 1% of all the ballots cast on Oahu.

The ballot-return envelope has the registered voter’s name and address printed on it, along with a unique bar code. The envelope must be signed by the voter and the signature verified to ensure that the registered voter cast the ballot and that they vote only once. The signature on the outside of the envelope is scanned and compared with the signature on file. If validated, the ballot envelope is forwarded for separation and counting, ensuring that the voter’s name is never paired with the actual ballot, which rests in a secrecy sleeve inside the envelope.

If the signature is missing, or is present but doesn’t match the signature on file, the county sets the envelope aside and contacts the voter to correct the discrepancy. Corrections must occur within five business days after the election.

The same will be true for the General Election, which is Nov. 3.

Q: When will they mail out the ballots?

A: Honolulu County is mailing out ballots the earliest, on Oct. 5 and 6, according to the state Office of Elections. Hawaii County is mailing ballots Oct. 7, Maui County on Oct. 8 and Kauai County on Oct. 9.

The entire state is voting by mail, so there’s no need for registered voters to request a ballot; all should receive them automatically.

Q: Are there any constitutional amendments this year? I haven’t heard anything.

A: No, there are no proposed changes to Hawaii’s Constitution on the 2020 ballot, but the counties do have proposed charter amendments specific to their regions. You can read the proposals on the state Office of Elections website, at 808ne.ws/chartam.

In Honolulu County the questions are:

>> Shall the Revised City Charter be amended to establish for the Prosecuting Attorney of the City and County of Honolulu a term limit of two consecutive full four-year terms, the same term limit as is applicable to the Mayor and Councilmembers of the City and County of Honolulu?

>> Shall the Revised City Charter be amended to establish a Youth Commission under the Managing Director?

>> Shall the Revised City Charter be amended to allow the Honolulu Ethics Commission to control its own budget after it has been enacted?

>> Shall the Revised Charter be amended to require ethics commission staff to be appointed based on merit principles, but exempt them from the civil service position classification plan, and to have the salaries of all ethics commission staff set by the ethics commission, subject to specified limitations?


Thank you to the occupant of a newer rust-colored car that was in front of me at Jack in the Box on Sept. 11 on Kamehameha Highway in Pearl City. I was very overwhelmed by your generosity when I found out that you had taken care of my purchase, especially when so many people are out of a job. What made it especially special was that it was my anniversary. So whoever you are, thank you. — Grateful senior

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

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